In this tutorial, we’re going to create a metallic effect using layer styles and gradients that you can apply to different objects. We’ll put it on a nice background and create a style for lettering that makes it look like it’s embedded into the metal. You can download the sample PSD file from the link at the bottom of the tutorial if you’d like to simply copy+paste the layer styles.
We start as always with a background gradient. I’ve used a Radial Gradient with two shades of a lovely light green. The exact color codes are:
Foreground color – #93cc1a
Background color – #7eb704
To give our background a bit more oomph we will next fade it off at the edges. So using a big soft brush and a foreground color of black, create a new layer and just go around the edges as shown.
Then switch the layer to opacity 30%.
Now duplicate that last layer of black edge and go to Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur and use a setting of 20px to blur out the layer and give it a softer effect.
You may be wondering why we didn’t just use a different radial gradient in the first place, and indeed you probably could do that. I like to use this method on the edges as it’s more precise.
Now to get a bit of background effect, I grabbed a font called “TW Cen MT (T1),” which I think might be a default font, and just made two “S” letters. I used the color #cecfd0 and then made them gigantic and set the layers to Multiply. This created some nice curvy shapes in the background.
Now I need a shape to use my metallic effects on so using the Custom Shape Tool (U) I select this Fleur De Lis shape to use because it’s a reasonably complex and nice shape. Again, I used the color – #cecfd0 – because it’s a nice light grey to base our metallic effect on.
To start the metallic effect, right click on the layer and choose Blending Options.
First add a Drop Shadow to lift the shape off the background. The key to drop shadows is to NOT make them too full on.
A good drop shadow should be subtle. I often don’t use black, but rather a variation of the background color–so in this case a dark green.
Next we add a Stroke. I’ve used an Inside stroke of 4px. But the key here is to switch Fill Type to Gradient and then use a nice gradient of grey and white.
The reason we do this is that if you look at metal in real life, you’ll see that it tends to go from light grey to darker grey to light grey and there are a lot of different shades. It isn’t one single flat color. Actually nothing in real life is a single flat color, but that’s another story.
So to get some realism, we need these gradients. But also you don’t want a full on gradient. Subtlety is the name of the game when it comes to gradients. Make soft changes. So here I’ve gone from white to that same light grey we used for the shape itself and back to white and back to grey and back to white.
Next to counter the stroke gradient, we add a Gradient Overlay using the same gradient. This appears on the main body of the shape and you can see how it contrasts really well with the stroke on the edge to make a metallic shine effect.
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